S41 A meteorological perspective of the hazardous outcomes during two consecutive February-March 2015 winter storms across Kentucky

Sunday, 10 January 2016
Hall E ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Tori A. Hampton, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY; and J. Durkee

During February and March 2015, two historic winter storms produced an array of hazardous outcomes across Kentucky and the surrounding areas within a two week period. In Kentucky, both events combined resulted in ten wind-chill related fatalities, one injury, and produced an estimated $174,000 in property damages. Many areas experienced nearly 48-hour snow durations that totaled between 40-50 cm. Record low temperatures below -20C were observed in parts of the state. Interstate closures and thousands of power outages stranded residents in sub-freezing and sometimes record cold temperatures across the state. Businesses and schools in rural cities were shut down for up to a week due to impassible snow-covered roads. The purpose of this study is to provide meteorological context for an improved understanding of the hazardous 2014-2015 winter conditions across Kentucky, particularly as they pertained to these two events. The data used in this study include first-order observation stations, hazard data from the National Climatic Data Center Storm Events Database, as well as Midwestern Regional Climate Center Cli-MATE temperature and snowfall observations. Initial findings show that while the winter of 2014-2015 ranked above average in snowfall, the state experienced relatively little snow and average temperatures prior to February 2015. Further, the hazards from these unusual winter events were produced from two differing synoptic circulation forcing mechanisms that were largely collocated over Kentucky during late February and early March, that ultimately paralyzed much of the state.
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